Two small boys
A personal experience:
Training is necessary for children
Ambling down the aisles of the local outlet of a popular Super
Market, I saw a little boy of about ten years arriving with his parents.
While they did their shopping he was doing a tour of his own, weaving in
and out of the aisles and I watched him interestedly as he reminded me
of my youngest grandson now domiciled abroad.
He paused at a garland of sachets draped over a rack to finger
through them and having made his choice tore one off and moved away. I
presumed it was to drop it into his mother’s trolley but I saw him
pause, look furtively around and thrust it into one of the many pockets
in his pants. He did not see me watching him, and probably feeling safe
resumed his trail. He was soon back at the sachets and fingering them
when he looked up and saw me. Not wishing to draw attention I wagged a
silent admonishing finger to make him aware that I knew what he was up
to. He grinned guiltily and moved away.
He knew exactly what he was doing... stealing... and from his actions
I judged that he was quite familiar with the routine. No ten year old,
unless a moron, can claim not to know that stealing is wrong. Fancy
words and deflecting phrases cannot absolve him of blame. That was the
harsh ugly truth.
Awaiting my turn at the paying counter later, I spotted the young
family again. Judging from their attire and purchases it was obvious
they were affluent people. I was in a dilemma was it not my duty to tell
the parents discreetly? If I did, how would they react? They could deny
it and be unpleasant: they could pull up the child and make a public
scene, they could go home quietly and then punish him severely. I
decided to keep silent. It was not only the child who was at fault here
but the parents as well for depriving their child of proper guidance.
The following Poya Day I was at a temple that was, ironically,
located a few hundred yards away from the above outlet. After devotions
I was putting on my footwear two little children in white approached
me... a girl of about twelve and her brother of about ten. She had a
book of tickets in her hand and requested that I buy a Rs. 10.00 ticket
as contribution towards releasing a bull from slaughter. Handing over a
Rs. 100.00 note I saw that I had put them into difficulties.
”We don’t have change to give you,” they said alarmed, and I assured
then that I did not want any balance. “But that is not fair!” exclaimed
the little boy,” we cannot accept so much from you Achchi I’ll go and
see whether I can get it changed.” I told him again that it was not
necessary but sensed that he was not happy, probably feeling that he had
cheated me in some way.
Accepting my explanation his sister began tearing off the tickets
when I told her that one token ticket would do, but she dutifully handed
me my due quota insisting I count them as well in case she had missed
any. Before moving away they thanked me again and invited me to
participate in the meritorious act which was to take place in the temple
premises the next week. I was deeply touched by their actions and
Here where children who had benefited from proper guidance and I
thought sadly of that other little body I had encountered a few weeks
Who was responsible for his lack of guidance and ultimate fate? His
parents? The school? Society? Perhaps all of us are collectively to
blame, I reflected.
Let us think seriously about that, shall we?